Don’t expect yesterday’s Dane County court ruling overturning sections of Wisconsin’s anti-union law to remain operative for long.
The ruling by Judge Juan Colas voids the law for city, county and school workers on the grounds that it violated the workers’ constitutional right to free speech, free assembly and equal representation. It singles out public workers who choose to associate in a union for punishments not given to other workers. The ruling also turned on the fact that workers’ raises were capped at the rate of inflation, while non-union colleagues had no such cap on their wages. So workers can join a union, but “only if they give up their right to negotiate and receive wage increases greater than the cost of living,” Judge Colas wrote. In addition, Judge Colas found that the law violated “home rule” agreements in the Wisconsin state constitution. Essentially, the state legislature created laws that managed the contributions to pensions for city, county and school district workers, rather than allowing the cities to make that determination for the workers they hire and control.
This is all sound or at least arguable logic; local unions said from the start that Act 10, the anti-union law, violated home rule. In the words of Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, “As we have said from day one, Scott Walker’s attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin’s public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab.” A federal court overturned two provisions of the law earlier this year on similar equal protection grounds (because some “public safety” union workers were not subject to automatic dues deduction and annual union recertification, that created two separate classes of workers).
But this ruling is subject to appeal to the